In advance of delivery of my high definition television, I added some high definition movies to my DVR. I really didn’t know anything about Thunderbolt and Lightfoot before seeing it, but I liked the cast, saw that Michael Cimino was the director and figured I’d give it a shot. It turned out to be a great choice for my inaugural HDTV experience. It begs the question; why isn’t this movie better known in cult film circles (not to say it is unknown)?
The film has an anarchic spirit indicative of the period in which it was made, the 1970’s. Filmed in the extremely photogenic state of Montana, the film chronicles the pairing of an ambitious fledgling crook, Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges – some early Lebowski/Dude in this performance – nominated for Best Supporting Actor) and a slightly older and somewhat world-weary mentor, Thunderbolt (Clint Eastwood). There is a heist story in here that is interesting enough to place some linear structure to the film, but the sheer joy of watching this is its inspired lunacy. There were some crazy images that seemed to beg for analysis in this film, but I was having too much fun watching it for the first time to try and tear it apart.
This is quickly going onto my personal list of great American cult films. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s playing one more time this month on HDNet Movies if you get it (November 24th).